About this artwork

Guthrie worked on this large-scale painting between 1885 and 1886. For part of that time he was staying at Cockburnspath, a small village near the Berwickshire coast, but he also worked on it in Glasgow and Kirkcudbright. The painting’s size was unusual for the time given the everyday subject matter. Large canvases were normally reserved for epic historical or religious themes. It shows a young boy and girl collecting windfall apples in an orchard as sunlight shimmers through the trees. Guthrie struggled with the challenges posed by working on such a scale; it forced him to use broad brushwork to achieve the naturalistic representation that he was seeking. The sketchbook that Guthrie used while staying at Cockburnspath is in the Scottish National Gallery’s Print Room, and it reveals his experiments with the composition of this picture (D 4052).

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  • title: In the Orchard
  • accession number: NG 2866
  • artist: Sir James GuthrieScottish (1859 - 1930)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Glasgow Boys
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1886
  • measurements: 152.00 x 178.00 cm (framed: 165.80 x 196.80 x 7.50 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased jointly by the National Galleries of Scotland and Glasgow Life with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2012

Sir James Guthrie

Sir James Guthrie

Guthrie became one of the leading painters in the group of artists called the Glasgow Boys. His early works of rural subjects painted with broad square brush strokes show the strong influence of French painters such as Bastien-Lepage. Guthrie was born in Greenock and trained as a lawyer before turning to art. After brief but stimulating periods in London and Paris, he committed himself to painting directly from nature in Scotland. Guthrie also experimented with pastel drawings and established a reputation as a successful portrait painter. He became president of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1902 and was knighted the following year.